knotweed sniffer dog

We all know that dogs are capable of some remarkable things, they can lead the blind, aid police officers and provide therapy for sick patients. Well, the talents of the canine don't stop there! Did you know they can also detect Japanese knotweed?

A Start-Up Company in Ireland

Helga Heylen founded her start-up company back in 2018 and has been training dogs to detect Japanese knotweed with incredible accuracy. Heylen claims that one of her sniffer dogs is able to detect the Japanese knotweed rhizomes even if they haven't broken the surface of the soil yet!

Using their powerful noses, the dogs are able to identify the exact location of a developing knotweed problem. Heylen currently has three knotweed detecting dogs working for her, one is a purebred labrador and the others are labrador-beagle crosses. 

These amazing sniffer dogs can really transform the way that Japanese knotweed is detected and treated. Rhizomes as small as a fingernail can be laid dormant under the soil for a number of years before developing into a fully-fledged knotweed nightmare! If dogs can help commercial property developers, home and business owners to quickly find and treat the problem, it could prevent a huge amount of structural damage later down the line. 

How Do These Dogs Work?

Unlike humans, dogs don't need to be able to see the knotweed to know it's there! They have a keen sense of smell that can identify rhizomes several metres under the ground. They can quickly move through over-grown terrain and don't need bright lights to work. This means they can quickly survey abandoned areas of land that humans simply couldn't access on foot. 

Doggy Danger

While these dogs might sound like miracle workers to those of you with a knotweed problem, there are some people who do not feel so positively about them. While working in Belgium, one of Heylen's dogs was given poisoned food after it detected knotweed at the site of an upcoming commercial development. The discovery of the knotweed by the talented pooch delayed the development project, which was a source of frustration for investors. 

Since then, security for the dogs has been tightened to make sure nothing like this happens again. They sleep under security cameras and are kept indoors near to the handlers. Hopefully, they can continue to carry out their work unharmed from now on! Heylen said: "You know it's a good thing when it excites like-minded people, which is certainly the majority and really scares others".

If you think you could have a Japanese knotweed problem on your hands, we can't provide sniffer dogs, but we can provide a FREE expert survey and Japanese knotweed treatment plan.

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